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Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome

Anthony A. Barrett, Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome
Yale University Press | ISBN 0300091966 | 2002 | PDF | 1 MB | 446 pages

The book offers a unique insight into the life of Rome's first imperial matron, Livia. Reviewing narrative and archeological evidence, Anthony Barret succeeds in showing how Livia was perceived by her contemporaries in light of Augustus' new imperial institutions. Because there's so little information on who Livia really was as a person, Mr. Barret's analysis starts becoming rather speculative when it comes to Livia's private dispositions. The book is thus more of a review of Livia's persona as opposed to her actual beliefs and behavior behind closed doors. At the very least, he succeeds in dispelling many of the anecdotal stories of her as a ambitious master schemer and regicite. These negative qualities are mostly the product of Tacitus' biased accounts which were so wonderfully crafted into Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" books. At the very least, one gets a good picture of the political and social environment Livia found herself in when she married Augustus and how it affected her public image.


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